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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Motorsport shaken by Zanardi crash
Zanardi's car was struck with huge force
Zanardi's car was struck with huge force
Members of the motor racing fraternity have spoken of their shock, following Italian Cart driver Alex Zanardi's horrific accident at the American Memorial 500 in Germany.

Cart chairman Joe Heitzler said: "What went through my mind immediately was, 'Dear Lord, dear Lord, please let this man be OK.'"

Heitzler visited Zanardi in hospital on Sunday and prayed by his bedside.

He said: "When I saw him, I couldn't believe how good he looked for what he'd been through.

You have accidents, yes, but you don't expect something this gruesome
Close friend
Johnny Herbert
"He was resting peacefully and his face had colour."

The crash occurred when Zanardi lost control coming out of the pits and veered into the path of Alex Tagliani, who was driving at 200mph.

Zanardi remains in a critical condition after losing both legs in the high-speed crash, and has been put in an artificial coma by doctors in hospital, in Berlin.

"His condition can no longer be described as extremely life-threatening but remains critical," said a hospital spokeswoman.

Fellow racers Johnny Herbert, Jimmy Vasser, Dario Franchitti and team-mate Tony Kanaan gathered at the hospital on Sunday with Zanardi's wife, Daniela.

Herbert flew in from Atlanta when he heard about the crash, and Tagliani also visited after being released from hospital on Sunday with minor back injuries.

Herbert, a former Formula One team-mate of Zanardi's, said: "It's a big shock to everybody.

  Alex Zanardi
Born Bologna 34 years ago
Lives in Monaco with wife Daniela and son Niccolo
Formula 3000 full debut in 1991
Made Formula One debut same year
Replaced Mika Hakkinen at Lotus in 1993
Massive accident at Spa in 1993, sidelining him for nine months
Burst on to the American scene in 1996, securing two Cart world titles
Returned to F1 with Williams in 1999 but replaced in 2000 by Jenson Button
Returned to Cart for the 2001 season
"You have accidents, yes, but you don't expect something this gruesome."

Mo Nunn team spokesman Laz Denes, who saw the crash from the pits, said: "I knew it could be fatal.

"All of our knees buckled. We thought, 'Oh, my God,' and we all just turned and groaned."

Earlier, Doctor Walter Schaffartzik said the 34-year-old had to have both legs amputated in an operation which lasted more than three hours on Saturday night.

Cart director of medical affairs, Steve Olvey, said Zanardi had also suffered several pelvis fractures which did not require surgery.

Morris Nunn, who owns the team Zanardi drove for, said: "We are devastated by the extent of Alex's injuries.

"But we are also so very thankful that he is on his way to surviving a tremendous impact.

"All of our thoughts and prayers are with Alex and his family."
Medics come to Zanardi's aid
Medics come to Zanardi's aid

Zanardi, who had two stints in Formula One, was seeking his first Cart victory of the season

The race was one of few American sporting events taking place at the weekend.

On Friday the name of the race was changed from the German 500 to the American Memorial 500 in recognition of the victims of the terrorist attacks on America.

Swede Kenny Brack won the race under a yellow flag, with Max Papis second and Patrick Carpentier third.

Eddie Jordan, who gave Zanardi his Formula One debut in Spain in 1991, said his thoughts were with the driver and his family.

"Alex is a very popular guy and we are all terribly saddened by his accident," said Jordan.

"We pray for his recovery and rehabilitation."

See also:

14 Sep 01 |  Motorsport
Cart race renamed
15 Sep 01 |  Formula One
Montoya takes Monza pole
15 Sep 01 |  Formula One
Indianapolis 'must go ahead'
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